Avoiding the Tragedy of the Commons: 3 Ways to Collaborate for a Better World

August 10, 2017 Comments Off on Avoiding the Tragedy of the Commons: 3 Ways to Collaborate for a Better WorldComments Off on Avoiding the Tragedy of the Commons: 3 Ways to Collaborate for a Better World

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Current demand for natural resources exceeds our planet’s carrying capacity.  We are consuming natural resources and generating waste at a faster rate than the planet can regenerate; essentially, borrowing natural capital from future generations.

Last week was 2017 Earth Overshoot Day, which means we used up the entire allotment of natural resources, greenhouse gas emissions, and land that would be sustainable for one year — and it’s only early August.

In other words, we are operating at a natural resource deficit.

Undoubtedly, the global economy is driving these environmental stressors and the global population of over 7.5 billion is increasingly demanding more from our finite planet.  

If we are going to feed, clothe, and house a population of roughly 10 billion by 2050, – let alone fulfill the expanding demand for consumer goods and luxury items — we must transform the engine of capitalism to not only maintain, but also replenish the earth’s natural resources.

From a corporate perspective, this means investing in supply chain efficiency, sustainable packaging, and renewable energy.  And, the growing consumer demand for purposeful products and services, is driving a shift towards a more sustainable and equitable economy.

Some of the biggest companies in the world such as Google, Apple, and Walmart are actively and publicly tackling their carbon footprints and ramping up sustainability. However, the collective efforts from socially responsible business leaders, nonprofits, governments, and activist still aren’t delivering the changes we need to reach global climate targets or ecological conservation benchmarks.

To avoid the tragedy of the commons, companies must work with other businesses, nonprofits, public institutions, consumers, and activists to ensure that capitalism strengthens our ecological systems and supports a prosperous economy for generations to come.

Here are 3 ways companies can collaborate to strengthen business and build a better world:

1) Work with nonprofits: Nonprofits are dedicated to creating value through social and environmental action, which puts them in a unique position to understand causes of global crises, levers that yield measurable results, and, perhaps most importantly, leverage existing relationships with key stakeholders on a community level. Therefore, nonprofits are excellent resources for companies that are dedicated to making a positive impact.

When it comes to building partnerships around purpose, collaborating with nonprofits is also a good way to strengthen your branding and marketing initiatives. Not only do they accelerate the scale of your social impact contribution, but they also offer excellent storytelling potential and can magnify the organic reach of your social media marketing initiatives.

There are so many nonprofits to choose from, and picking the right nonprofit partner – let alone establishing a contract with them — can be time consuming.  

Two companies that make it easier for brands to work with nonprofits are Panda Pay and Good360.

Panda Pay works to streamline the donation process, so companies can give to any nonprofit registered with the IRS. The service also helps brands facilitate giving campaigns, such as buy-one-give-one promotions or percentage-for-the-planet initiatives.

Good360 helps brands with product donation campaigns. This giving network of over 50,000 makes it easy for brands to donate their products to people who really need them. It’s also a great way to get tax-deductible receipts for last season’s products or find a new home for returned goods.

Essentially, collaborating with nonprofits by donating money, products, or company expertise is a great way to amplify impact and build your brand.

2) Commit to global movements:  International coalitions offer companies opportunities to make partnerships with other businesses that are working to progress the same social or environmental initiative. They also can help you start tracking your resource consumption and environmental footprint.

The We Mean Business Coalition is a great example of a global, purpose-driven corporate movement, and an excellent way for companies to advance their climate action. This group of over 750 businesses and investors — including BMW Group, Coca-Cola, Goldman Sachs, and others — are dedicated to reducing carbon emissions, magnifying the voice of brands, helping companies plan emissions-reduction strategies, and influencing policy decisions.

Ultimately, joining other business leaders who are working to achieve measurable impact is a great way to scale communications reach, make progress on a collective issue, influence government, and learn from industry leaders.

3) Join others in building sustainable supply chains:  For brick and mortar businesses, the manufacturing and logistical side of the business are the two largest sources of negative environmental impact.  Therefore, committing to sustainable supply chains is an actionable way to make measurable reductions in your company’s dependency on natural resources and carbon footprint.

It can be challenging to design sustainable products. However, working with others who are also dedicated to transforming ways in which the business community sources their value chains is a great way to move the needle, both globally and as a company.

The Sustainable Apparel Coalition is an amazing example of how businesses can work together to advance sustainable product sourcing. This collective — mainly comprised of clothing, shoe, and textile makers — utilizes the Higg Index to measure the impact of their supply chains, share best practices, and make connections with sustainable manufacturers.

Fundamentally, collaborating around building sustainable supply chains not only benefits companies by advancing sustainability goals, but also enhances environmental credibility and answers the call of conscious consumers who want to know what’s in the products they buy.

The key takeaway is that collaboration is essential to, not only scaling corporate social responsibility efforts, but also maintaining our planet so that businesses can sustainably thrive for the future of humanity.  Business leaders must work with nonprofits, public agencies, think tanks, consumers, and other brands to preserve the natural resources that fuel our economy, to compete in the 21st century and build a better world.


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